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instance, 'restored' a word to a present position which it never held in the past. The substitution of his for the possessive 's, as in “John his book,' and other well-known instances, was done by way of restoring the original explicitness of the language. It furnishes us with a strong illustration of the existence of that counter-force which restrains the tendency to a symphytic coalition.
In fact the growth of symbolic words and the growth of inflections are naturally antagonistic to, and almost mutually exclusive of, each other. They are both made of the same material. They are the results of opposite states of the aggregate mind. If the attention of the community is fully awake to its language and takes an interest in it, no word can lose its independence. If language is used unreflectingly, the lighter words will get absorbed by those of greater weight, and then they pass into the dependent condition of inflections attached to the main words. Thus even Greek, our brightest ancient example of symbolism, produced conglomerations in its obscure and neglected period, as Stamboul (the modern name of Constantinople), which is a conglomerate of és tnv Tów. So also Stanchio or Stanko, a conglomerate of és tnv Kô, is the modern name for the island anciently known as Cos or Coos. For the passage of a word into the condition of an inflection, a certain neglect and obscurity is necessary; while the requisite condition for the formation of a rich assortment of symbolics is a general and sustained habit of attention to the national language.
THE VERBAL GROUP.
The verb is distinguished from all other forms of speech by very marked characteristics and a very peculiar organization. It has surrounded itself with an assortment of subordinate means of expression, such as are found in attendance on no other part of speech. The power of combining with itself the ideas of person, time, and all the various contingencies which we comprise under the term 'mood,' is a power possessed by the verb alone. It makes no difference whether these accessory ideas are added to the verb by means of inflections or of symbolic words. The important fact is this,--that under the one form or the other, the verb has such means of expression at its service in every highly organized language.
The cause wherefore the verb is thus richly attended with its satellites becomes very plain when we consider what a verb is. A verb is a word whereby the chief action of the mind finds expression. The chief action of the mind is judgment; that is to say, the assertion or the denial of a proposition. This is explicitly done by means of the verb. Out of this function of the verb, and the exigencies
of that function, have arisen the peculiar features and prerogatives of the verb. This part of speech has, by a natural operation, drawn around it those aids which were necessary to it for the discharge of its function as the exponent of the mental act of judgment.
It will be useful to distinguish that which is essential to the verb, from that which is a result of its essential character. The power of expressing time by those variations which we call tense (after an old form of the French word for ótime'), has attracted notice as the most salient feature about the verb. Aristotle defined a verb as a word that includes in itself the expression of time. The established German word for a verb is Zeit-wort, that is to say, 'time-word.' Others have thought that the power of expressing action is the real and true characteristic of the verb. ld, in his Hebrew Grammar, calls the verb accordingly That-wort, that is to say, 'deed-word.' But in these expressions the essential is obscured by that which is more conspicuous. Madvig, in his Latin Grammar, seems to me to put it in the right light. He designates the verb as UDSAGNSORD, that is, 'Outsayings-word'; because it'udsiger om en Person eller Ting en Tilstand eller en Virksomhed, outsays (=pronounces, asserts, delivers) about a person or thing a condition or an action. It is the instrument by which the mind expresses its judgments, or (in modern parlance) makes its deliverances.
By reason of its central position, and by its constant and unsuspended action, the verb has a greater tenacity of form than any other part of speech. Hence it is that the most remarkable antiquities of the English language are to be found in the verb. It is in the verb that we find the Saxon forms best preserved, and that we find the most conspicuous proofs of the relationship of our language to the German and Dutch and Danish and Icelandic. In fact, it would be
hardly too much to say, that a description of the elder verbs of any of these languages would with very slight alterations, pass for a description of the elder verbs of any one of the others.
We must indeed admit one considerable exception to this statement. The feature which distinguishes the English verbs from those of the cognate languages is this,—that we have gone further than any of them in dropping the personal inflections. The German says Ich glaube, du glaubest, er glaubt; wir glauben, ihr glaubet, sie glauben. The Englishman says, I believe, thou believest, he believes; we believe, you believe, they believe. And as thou believest is but rarely used, much more rarely than du glaubest, and perhaps more rarely even than ihr glaubet, we have only the -s of the third singular he believes as the one personal inflection left in ordinary use among us.
Particularly is it to be observed that we have lost the n of the plural present, which is preserved in the German form glauben. We know from the Latin sunt, amant, monent, regunt, audiunt, and from other sources, that it was anciently a very wide-spread termination for the plural verb. This we see well preserved in the Mæso-Gothic verb, as may be seen in the following example of the present indicative of the verb for 'to believe,' GALAUBJAN :
2nd. galaubeis galaubeith
3rd. galaubaith galaubjand
Here we have nd in the third person plural. In the Old High German it was as in Latin nt. The Germans have dropped the dental t and have kept the liquid N. We dropped the n, or rather we merged it in a thicker vowel before, and a thicker consonant after. The plural termination -âð of the
Saxon present indicative is the analogue of the Gothic termination -and. In the same manner an n has been absorbed in the English words tooth, goose, mouth, five, soft, which are in German Zahn, Gans, Mund, Fünf, Sanft: also in sooth, which is in Danish sand. The following is the present indicative of the Saxon verb GELYFAN, to believe :-
2nd. gelyfest gelyfað
3rd. gelyfð gelyfað
Thus we never had an n in the third person plural of the present indicative, not even in the oldest stage of Saxon literature. For the past tense we retained it, and also for the subjunctive mood in all tenses. The consequence is, that in our early literature verbs abound with n in the third person plural, but never in the present tense. Thus Mark xvi. 13, and hig him ne gelyfdon, 'neither believed they them.' In Exodus iv. 5 we have the plural of the present subjunctive, þæt hig gelyfon, 'that they may believe. In the former of these passages Wyclif has: And thei goynge toolden to othere, nethir thei bileuyden to hem.
It is one of the marks of Chaucer's severance from the old mother tongue that he does not observe this distinction, but uses the n-form of the plural even for the present indicative. In this, as in so many other points that have been noticed, that which was before prevalent was now made universal, and many nice distinctions were obliterated.
• And smale foweles maken melodye
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrymages.'